Whether you’re committed to a signature scent or prefer to change up your aroma, perfume is a significant part of our everyday routines. But have you ever wondered where perfume actually comes from?
In this blog, we’re going to take a trip through the ages. If you’re curious to find out more about the history of perfume and discover where the first fragrances came from, you’re in the right place.
Keep reading to find out more!
The History of Perfume
Smell Like an Egyptian
Forget walking like an Egyptian. Have you ever considered you might smell like one too? That’s right, the first uses of perfume have been attributed to ancient Egypt. Created by distilling natural ingredients with non-scented oils, these early fragrances were primarily used ceremonially or for spiritual purposes. The most popular scents were derived from local flowers, fruits and aromatic woods – not dissimilar to the ingredients that inspire modern-day perfumes.
As well as the perfume itself, the innovative Egyptians are also credited for the earliest creation of glass. Dating back to around 1000BC, perfume storage was one of the most popular uses for glass bottles during this period.
It wasn’t long before other cultures began incorporating perfume into their cultures too, adopted by the Chinese, Hindus, Israelites, Carthaginians, Greeks and Romans. Much like our current beauty market, perfumes really blew up in popularity.
Tapputi the Perfume Maker
While early perfume users took a more natural approach to create their fragrances, one notable figure made the process a lot more scientific. The world’s first recorded chemist was a woman named Tapputi – a perfume maker recorded on a 1200 BCE tablet in Babylonian Mesopotamia.
While holding an influential role in the government of her time, she also developed new methods for scent extraction and techniques that many chemists still use today. Her most groundbreaking discovery was the incorporation of solvents into perfumes to make them stronger and longer-lasting. Most perfumes of today contain alcohol for this very reason!
The Dark Ages
Our journey through the history of perfume takes a turn as Christianity began to spread throughout the world. The Dark Ages describes the period following the fall of the Roman Empire, a tumultuous era of economic, intellectual and cultural decline. Values changed, and as a result, perfume became a symbol of frowned-upon frivolity.
In fact, it was the Muslim world that kept perfume traditions alive during the Dark Ages, experimenting with new scents and creation processes. Islamic cultures also helped trigger a more widespread appreciation for the product as international trade began to boom.
The Louis XV Effect
The popularity of perfume truly exploded in the 16th century, most notably in Europe’s France. Recognised in modern times as the nation of romance, art and luxury, France’s obsession with fragrance reached the next level thanks to Louis XV. His ruling age is often referred to as ‘the perfume court’, quite simply because EVERYTHING was perfumed. Gloves, clothing, furniture – nothing escaped the keen spray of Louis XV.
Popularity continued to escalate, growing further through the 18th century with the invention of eau de Cologne. The industry was well established and has reigned supreme in our lives ever since.
Uses Over Time
While modern fragrance-lovers see perfume as a purely scent-producing product, its use over time has undoubtedly fluctuated.
Let’s dive into some of its most famous functions through time:
- Perfume was used as a cure by monks in the Middle Ages, appealed by the essential oils and ability to expel ‘bad air’, believed to cause ill health.
- Much like the burning of incense, perfume was utilised for religious ceremonies and spiritual reflection throughout the earliest period of use.
- In 18th century France, perfume had a range of purposes. Dripped into bathwater, drizzled into wine – you name it, they tried it.
So, that’s the long and brilliant history of perfume. Our favourite fragrances not only serve to make us smell amazing; they carry a lengthy legacy of scientific innovation, religious dedication and romantic seduction.
Next time you grab your go-to scent, don’t forget to pay homage to the ancient minds who made it possible!
If you’re looking for affordable and luxurious scents to take your perfume collection to the next level, visit FM Perfume today to browse our incredible selection.